I believe I just might be the luckiest guy ever born.
The generation following the Greatest Generation by default has to be the Luckiest Generation that has ever lived. That generation is enjoying the fruit of all the sacrifices made by those who served a cause greater than themselves.
In my lifetime, I have witnessed inventions and events that have changed the world. Space exploration, satellite and missile technology, the Internet, handheld computers, cell phones, high-speed air travel, MRIs, major medical breakthroughs, 911 services; I could go on and on. I watched NASA put a man on the moon and scientists harness microwaves that improved everything from communications to cooking our dinners.
Unlimited amounts of energy in the form of electricity, gasoline and natural gas have been available to me and my family to heat and cool our home, power our cars and improve our lives like no other generation has seen. I have lived in communities that provide parks, libraries, shopping centers and grocery stores with a greater selection of food than the average world citizen can even imagine.
I just missed being drafted to serve in Vietnam and thus have never seen the horrors of war other than what I have seen on TV or heard from those who served. I have never had to experience enemy tanks rolling down my streets. And when we were attacked on 9/11, I watched brave men and women voluntarily answer the call to serve and defend this country.
Depressions are something I read about and studied but never had to experience. I have spoken with people who went through the Depression. It amazes me how they refer to those times as, "the good old days."
Good? Depression? Go figure.
I was one of the lucky 3 percent of the world's population born in America – a country that provided me job opportunities that spanned from cleaning toilets to digging ditches as a young man. It also allowed me to start a company with $50 that grew into a national firm with $500,000,000 in sales.
Being raised in a country with unlimited potential makes me the luckiest guy in the world. I guess put in simple terms: The grass is greenest under my own two feet.
I could go on and on about an amazing wife of 31 years, two terrific daughters that bring great joy to my life. A church with an incredible pastor who is an encourager. The faithful and hard-working employees and contractors that I have worked with for 28 years. Man, am I blessed.
I could write for the next two days, but my readers would think I am bragging. In fact, I am. I am bragging about the greatest country on the face of the earth and all it has afforded me and the people I love. The good news is that same country affords everyone else that same opportunity if he or she chooses to believe it can be done.
This is America, the land of the free and the home of the brave. Not the complainer.
Unfortunately, many people choose to complain and focus on all the things that are wrong with the country instead of all the things that are right. We are so blessed in this country, we have come to expect more than we deserve. We can expect no more or less than what we are willing to give. That was and is the key difference between the Greatest Generation and the Luckiest Generation.
The "Greatest" returned from fighting the most costly war in history with nearly 71 million lives lost worldwide. The United States alone lost 407,000 military personnel and 6,000 civilians.
As the men fought on the front lines, the women toiled in the factories at home making sure their soldiers had everything possible to assure victory. No one complained. No one attacked the president or the troops. People had a common goal. Victory!
What a novel idea for many folks in America today.
After their huge sacrifice, those who had survived came home to build a nation. Equipped with a "can do" attitude, they built homes and factories. Cars and refrigerators. Communities. Planted and harvested crops. Built power plants and drilled for oil. Never once complaining. Always relying on the promise that in America all things are possible. Within a few decades the same citizens that defeated the Nazis and fascism had built the greatest country the world had seen and then with great pride handed it off to the Luckiest Generation. They wanted more for their children than they wanted for themselves. And man alive, did they deliver.
So what are we going to do with it?
I am beyond tired of hearing how everyone in America is suffering so badly. Suffering has taken on a whole new meaning in America. What we call suffering the world views as luxury. I think we have things a bit out of whack. The Greatest Generation laughs when they hear about our suffering.
Is it suffering when you can't pay your bills because you spent more money than you earned, or is that stupidity? Is it suffering to lose your home to foreclosure when you should have been renting and not buying in the first place? I guess not being able to go out to eat three times a week is suffering.
Yes, gasoline and food prices are sky high, but they are plentiful and abundant. I don't see any gas lines like I saw in the '70s. The last grocery store I was in had enough food to feed a small town. Apparently, suffering has a different meaning to different folks.
Look, I am not trying to undervalue the challenges many people face. I know there are many good people in this country, playing by the rules, who find themselves falling behind. Hard times can make a person bitter or better. It's all in one's perception. Hard times don't last forever. And equally important, all people at some time in life face struggles and hardship. So what better place to do it than in America? Would you prefer Darfur or Uganda? How about Uzbekistan?
There is one group of people who are sacrificing and suffering. Men and women who are serving in the Armed Forces around the world know all too well about what doing without and sacrifice is all about, yet they seldom complain. Soon the troops sent for the "surge" will return home after a successful mission, and what will they get? Harry and Nancy saying they lost? A trial for shooting someone? They deserve better but will never complain if they don't get it.
This country offers so much to all its citizens and asks very little in return. We are not drafted and sent off to war like the last generation. We are not required to sacrifice like the last generation. Very little has been asked of the Luckiest Generation. So maybe we need a cause bigger than ourselves. The happiest people I know are those who serve something or someone bigger than themselves. Too many in America today seek amusement to fill the void left by not having a cause. That amusement is blocking the view of all that is possible in America to those who wish to succeed.
I just celebrated the Fourth of July in a nation that offers freedom and opportunity like no other. As I watched my children and grandchildren play, swim and eat hot dogs in complete safety, I was reminded just how lucky a man I am to live in America. As the fireworks exploded over San Diego Bay, my heart filled with gratitude to know that rich or poor, black or white, old or young, we could all watch the spectacular light show without paying a penny. It made me remember that I am a proud member of the Luckiest Generation.
And the best way I can thank the Greatest Generation for all they did is to enjoy all they provided, knowing full well that to whom much is given much is required. Yes, we should fight for what is right and hold our leaders accountable. But in the end, always know that we are a blessed country. Blessed far beyond anything we ever deserved. We are the Luckiest Generation.
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